Nyle DiMarco is one of three finalists for the current season of “Dancing With the Stars” (DWTS). DiMarco, who was born with profound hearing loss, won America’s Next Top Model last year, then was asked by DWTS producers to participate in this spring’s competition. Although he’d never danced before, DiMarco gave it a try. He told People Magazine—which has written several profiles on him—that he hopes his appearances on these shows help inspire other young people who are deaf to experience more independence.
“I started to realize that there are a lot of people who are unaware of Deaf culture, and I’ve been given a great platform to reframe the Deaf community. I want to use my celebrity for good,” says DiMarco in the article.
Last month, DiMarco launched a foundation as part of this altruistic goal. Having grown up in a family of people with hearing loss—including his two brothers, both parents, grandparents and more—he strongly believes in giving kids language options. His foundation aims to provide parents of children who are deaf with information about teaching them American Sign Language even if they also plan to use spoken language, cochlear implants or hearing aids.
The Nyle DiMarco Foundation’s mission page states its aim as improving “access to accurate, research-based information about early language acquisition–specifically, the bilingual education approach. Through the early intervention process, the child’s language and literacy development should be the focal point.”
A fan favorite since the beginning of the season, DiMarco really wowed the audience and judges by incorporating a completely silent segment into one of his performances. This allowed viewers to get an idea of what he experiences each week.
DiMarco isn’t the first person who’s deaf to dance on the show. Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin competed in Season 6.